Decorating your multi-gen home is not about any specific style, but about the way you express your chosen style. Whether your family prefers traditional, contemporary, or an eclectic mix of several styles, your decorating goals should focus on creating a safe, comfortable, and yes, beautiful environment in which all family members can thrive.
It may seem like chaos when your multiple households combine. Like your carefully curated home has been turned upside down. However, there is a solution. Simply make a plan to redecorate your house based on the tips below. You’re sure to turn the chaos into a charming, comingled home that works beautifully for your multi-gen family.
1. Comfort Above All
Decorate with comfort in mind but add to that functionality. For example, when choosing seating, think about comfort, however for seniors that comfort should be combined with functionality, meaning the seats should be of a height that allows folks to rise and walk away easily. A super-soft, comfortable sofa, for instance, is sometimes lower and harder on older knees. Thus, the poor functionality outweighs comfort.
2. Uncluttered With Room to Move
No matter the style, clean, uncluttered spaces are safer and offer ease of movement that works for all ages—no awkward furnishings jutting out. Being able to move about easily gives every member of the family a sense of independence and security.
3. Color Palettes That Work for Everyone
It is self-evident that color is in the eye of the beholder. Successful color palettes will be a compromise, one that incorporates the best of the family’s color ideas and, at the minimum, does not include “can’t live with” colors expressed by anyone.
4. Visual Interest With Pattern
For families who love to change their living room or family room decor often, opting for upholstered pieces in neutral solid colors will allow for quick and easy changes with patterned throw pillows. In just a few minutes, a whole new look can be achieved.
5. Double-Duty Furniture
Choose pieces that are multi-functional when you can. For instance, an ottoman that has storage for throws and blankets inside will come in handy for tucking them away when not in use. Lots of family members mean lots of throws if they are just scattered around. A little extra storage will help keep things neat and tidy.
6. Think About Safety
Be thoughtful about furniture placement, so there are no unsightly and dangerous cords running across the floor to trip up unsteady feet. As well, the furniture itself can affect natural movement in a space if placed haphazardly.
7. Create a Happy Place to Thrive
Decorating done thoughtfully can achieve that and more. Color, texture, and pattern that makes us smile are what you’re aiming for. Not all families are the same, so what works for you may not work for other folks. Likewise, what works for other multigenerational families may not suit yours. As you blend diverse family members into one household, just understand from the beginning that the decorating you do now will change over time. Be flexible and enjoy every minute of this new home and your new way of life.
8. Easy Comfort in the Bedrooms
Fluffy bedding to sink into and mounds of decorative pillows may be gorgeous, but some may struggle with that comfort. Not everyone enjoys finding a spot for those pillows come bedtime, nor can everyone rest comfortably in extra-deep bedding. So, consider making up beds with a minimalist attitude.
If you start with a good medium weight mattress pad and crisp white linens, then each person can personalize his or her bedroom with pillows and a comforter that feels good to them, along with bed covers that are easy and comfortable too. And that goes for bed pillows; what we rest our head-on is a very personal thing. Some need floppy pillows filled with pieces of foam, while others can’t sleep without their favorite down pillow.
Decorating for a multi-gen family is about more than pretty colors and appealing fabrics; it’s about the people who will live in these spaces, which makes them happy and welcome in this home.
9. Gallery Wall With a Twist
How much fun would it be to enjoy holiday meals in the company of art created by family members? Of course, any space would benefit from the addition of an eclectic gallery wall, but in the dining room, a wall of art made by everyone would make for great conversation around the dinner table. All could enjoy stories of how each piece came to be.
From a first drawing in kindergarten to a painting done by Grandma as she decided to expand her horizons by taking a landscape painting class, the whole family will be eager to acknowledge the artistic endeavors on display.
10. An Unexpected Touch
To bring decor to life, add at least one unexpected touch to every room. Think about a large botanical print in the kitchen, a fantastic piece of wall art in the laundry room, or a whimsical oversized elephant drawing in the nursery. Surprising elements should make you smile every time you enter a room. You can’t go wrong with that! Did we mention, have fun as you create your multi-gen house? As you bring order to chaos, if you enjoy the process, your newly decorated home will be infused with that sense of wonder and joy. Turning an empty house into a home that’s beautiful and full of life for the entire family to enjoy for years to come.
At the same time, realize that decorating decisions are not set in stone. If you “make a mistake” and choose a paint color that everyone hates, all you must do is select another color you love and pick up that paintbrush. That’s not called a mistake, that’s called a learning experience you can handle.
Joanna Dorman is a freelance writer with over 16 years of experience creating interior design, home building, home improvement, and real estate content. Additionally, she has 15 years of field experience in the interior design industry and trained in interior design at the Art Institute of Houston.